AoB PLANTS

Improving methods to evaluate the impacts of plant invasions: Lessons from 40 years of research

Experimental invasion of Imperata cylindrica to measure community and ecosystem effects (credit: S. Luke Flory).
Experimental invasion of Imperata cylindrica to measure community and ecosystem effects (credit: S. Luke Flory).

Methods used to evaluate the ecological impacts of biological invasions vary widely from broad-scale observational studies to removal experiments in invaded communities and experimental additions in common gardens and greenhouses. Different methods provide information at diverse spatial and temporal scales with varying levels of reliability. In a new review published in AoB PLANTS, Stricker et al. consider the research methods used to measure the ecological effects of non-native plant invasions. In their synthesis they find that although the number of studies on invasion impacts has increased markedly in recent years, there are a lack of experimental studies, a bias among invader functional groups, and relatively few studies on ecosystem effects of invasions. They recommend utilization of longer-term studies that combine broad-scale observations, experimental manipulations, and predictive modelling across diverse invader functional groups and affected ecosystems to provide more comprehensive insight into the impacts of plant invasions.

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